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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Alleged Pyramid Scheme Promoter Indicted on Visa Fraud Charges

BOSTON – A Florida man connected to two notable pyramid schemes was indicted on visa fraud charges today.

Sanderley Rodrigues De Vasconcelos, 43, of Davenport, Fla., was indicted on fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents.

According to the indictment, Rodrigues presented his green card to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers on May 3, 2015, at Logan International Airport, knowing that he obtained that document based on false statements to immigration officials.  Rodrigues was arrested at Newark International Airport on May 16, 2015 upon returning to the United States after a trip abroad.  He was detained until July 13, 2015, but has since been released by the Court on strict conditions pending trial.

Rodrigues came to the attention of federal authorities in 2006 when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued him in connection with his ownership of Universo Fone Club and defrauding investors of millions of dollars.  More recently Rodrigues was cited by the SEC for his role in promoting TelexFree, a pyramid scheme that purported to sell a voice over Internet service.  In July 2014, the owners of TelexFree were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and several counts of wire fraud.  In addition to the instant indictment, Brazilian authorities have obtained a warrant for Rodrigues’ arrest, charging him with leaving Brazil in violation of a court order.

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Assisted U.S. Attorney Cory S. Flashner of Ortiz’s Worcester Branch Office.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated August 12, 2015